Community Intervenes as Plainclothes Cops Try to Arrest Girls For Allegedly Pushing a Button

May 18, 2015 | Prachi Gupta

Too often with videos documenting police brutality, we see one of two things: Either a crowd of bystanders looks on helplessly as officers abuse their power, or the crowd gets involved, and then there are mass arrests. In this video shot by Copwatch Patrol Unit member Michael Barber, however, neither of those outcomes happened — cops overstepped their bounds, the community intervened, and then the community won. UPDATE: The Internal Affairs Bureau said it’s investigating the incident.

The Free Thought Project reports that two undercover officers from the 30th Precinct attempted to arrest a 14-year-old girl “reportedly over allegations that a child who was with her, who witnesses say appeared to be around 7-years-old, had pushed the button on a police call box.”

According to Barber, the incident happened at in Washington Heights on May 14 at 7 PM.

The video shows two men questioning the girls, while the crowd comments on the absurdity of the arrest. At around 5 minutes into the video, one woman begins yelling at the men, demanding their names, and telling the girls their rights. “They have no business touching you!” she yells. One of the teens is pleading with an undercover cop, seated in the driver’s seat of his car. At 6:15, he comes out, grabs her, and pushes her against another car as she screams, “Don’t touch me!” Then the entire crowd gets involved, and for the next few minutes the man struggles with the girl and other angry community members.

“Back off, because you know you’re doing wrong!” screams a woman. Remarkably, they listen, and walk away.

“I was scared to put up this video at first,” Barber said, “because I was not sure if it would get the cops in trouble or the community but everyone was wrong at some point.”